|Inside a Farrowing Greenhouse at Becker |
Lane Organic Farms.
You can read the article that I came across by checking out this .pdf and scrolling down to page 9. A little more searching turned up this gem from Jude Becker of Becker Lane Organic Farm. The second link there is really a great summary of data and pictures of his greenhouse/hog house construction. Mr. Becker's building was quite a bit more advanced than I was contemplating with it's in floor heating and wood boiler, concrete floor and walls, and eventually it was divided into quadrants with a feeding system. You will also find that his results were much less than stellar, but I think it does give me something to think about for the future.
Some time ago I watched a video online about a farmer that was using a traditional hoop house for winter farrowing. He was using deep-bedding and his pasture huts for farrowing, but also had a heat lamp in the creep area of each hut and a radiant heat tube hanging at the peak. This particular farmer said his goal was to keep the building slightly above freezer so that the sows would be forced out of the common area and into the huts for farrowing. In my somewhat warmer Southern Iowa climate having two layers of plastic with air between them (provided by a fan) may help keep the main area around that 32º some or much of the time.
There are always downsides to every system though. Many of the fabric hoop house owners that I have spoke with tell me that they have had the same tarp on their buildings for 15 years and some even longer. With the plastic I'm sure it would have to be replaced much more often than that and there would be costs and labor associated with that. The benefit that has me most interested in this system though is the ability to have a secondary use for the building in the summer ... by growing some sort of crop once the pigs out out! Of course there is no real "need" for a greenhouse when I would be using it, but maybe I can figure out something instead of having an empty building.
I would love to have a discussion on this topic, or hear any thoughts you all have on the viability of this type of building. Plus ... if you have any suggestions on crops that could be raised in the building ... well ... I'm open to suggestions!